One area where growing interest in identifiers is very clear is that of people, particularly in their role as authors or creators. In this context, the Names Project in the UK is interesting:
The project is going to scope the requirements of UK institutional and subject repositories for a service that will reliably and uniquely identify names of individuals and institutions.
It will then go on to develop a prototype service which will test the various processes involved. This will include determining the data format, setting up an appropriate database, mapping data from different sources, populating the database with records and testing the use of the data.
This will provide important information about the future usefulness of a name authority service for institutional and subject-based repositories, and other applications beyond the repository sector. [The Names Project]
The website does not talk about how any ensuing service might be sustained.
The project has produced a useful Landscape report [pdf], documenting relevant standards and projects. Including Worldcat Identities and the VIAF project.
The benefits of using a consistent name are clear from a discovery point of view. So it is interesting that many people are inconsistent in how they identify themselves on their works. Search engines have probably made people more conscious of the distinctiveness – or otherwise – of their names? The additional step of unique identification would facilitate various services.